June 2016 Letter
For these joyful days of Holy Resurrection and the feasts of Ascension & Pentecost, we quote our holy father St. Cyril the Great from his comment on the verse: “And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20: 22-23):
“For He (Christ) proclaimed that He would send down to us from heaven the Comforter, when He was ascended to God the Father; and this, indeed, He did, when He had gone away to the Father, and vouchsafed to shed forth the Spirit abundantly upon all who were willing to receive it. For any man could receive it, through faith, that is, and Holy Baptism; and then was fulfilled that which was spoken by the voice of the Prophet: “I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh” (Joel 2: 28).
“But it was necessary that the Son should appear as co-operating with the Father in granting the Spirit; it was necessary that those who believed on Him should understand that He is the Power of the Father, That has created this whole world, and called man out of nothing into being. For God the Father, at the beginning, by His own Word, took of the dust of the ground, as is written, and fashioned the animal, that is man, and endowed him with a soul, according to His Will, and illuminated him with a share of His own Spirit; for “He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Gen 2: 7), as is written. And when it came to pass that through disobedience man fell under the power of death, and lost his ancient honor, God the Father built him up and restored him to newness of life, through the Son, as at the beginning.
“And how did the Son restore him? By the death of His own Flesh He slew death, and brought the race of man back again into incorruption; for Christ rose again for us. In order, then, that we might learn that He it was Who at the beginning created our nature, and sealed us with the Holy Spirit, our Savior again grants the Spirit, through the outward sign of His Breath, to the holy disciples, as being the firstfruits of renewed nature. For Moses writes concerning our creation of old, that God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life. As, then, at the beginning, man was formed and came into being, so likewise is he renewed; and as he was then formed in the Image of his Creator, so likewise now, by participation in the Spirit, is he transformed into the Likeness of his Maker.
“For that the Spirit impresses the Savior’s Image on the hearts of those who receive Him surely does not admit of question; for Paul plainly exhorteth those who had fallen through weakness into observance of the Law, in the words: “My little children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you” (Gal 4: 10). For he says that Christ will not be formed in them save by partaking of the Holy Spirit, and living according to the law of the Gospel. Therefore, as in the first fruits of creation, which is made regenerate into incorruption and glory and into the Image of God, Christ establishes anew His own Spirit in His disciples. For it was necessary that we should also perceive this truth, namely, that He brings down and grants the Spirit unto us. Therefore, also, He said: “All things, whatsoever the Father hath, are Mine” (John 16: 15). And as the Father hath, of Himself and in Himself, His own Spirit, so also the Son hath the Spirit in Himself, because He is Consubstantial with Him”.
May the blessings of St. Mary and St. Mercurius, and the blessings of the holy resurrection and the 50 Holy days be with us always Amen.
Belleville, June 1, 2016